Summary: One thing we should remember in ministry is that God is in control.
Knowing When To Move On
Text: Acts 18:1-17
1. Illustration: One of the great challenges of witnessing is knowing when to move on. There will be some people that simply will not listen no matter what we say to them. Even if we use the most creative means, consistently show them the love of Christ, and pray for them daily, their hearts may still remain as hard as stone. So what do we do? I remember a time in my first pastorate when there were some people in the church who were treating myself and my family is a very disrespectful manner. We had a congregational meeting with the Presbyter, who at that time was Mike Massey, who recently went to be with the Lord. The meeting was not pretty! It consisted of one side of the church standing up and complaining about me, and someone from the other side standing up and sticking up for me. This went on for an hour and a half (to me it seemed an eternity). At the conclusion of the meeting, Mike put his arms around me and said, "Mark, if the Holy Spirit hasn’t changed them, you and I aren’t going to." It was some of the best advice that I was ever given in my nearly 20 years of ministry. Sometimes we just have to move on! That’s what Paul did here in Acts 18, they wouldn’t listen to his message, so he decided to move on. He made the decision to go to the Gentiles who would listen.
2. When situations like this occur we need to remember...
A. Sometimes You Have To Let Go
B. All Of The Time You Have To Be Fearless
C. All Of The Time God Will Keep His Promises
3. Let's stand together as we read Acts 18:1-17
Proposition: One thing we should remember in ministry is that God is in control.
Transition: As hard as it seems...
I. Sometimes You Have To Let Go (1-6).
A. Shook The Dust Off
1. If you recall, last week we talked about how to minister to people who don't hold the Bible in the same high regard that we do. And we should do all that we can to reach as many people with the Gospel as possible. However, we will occasionally run into people who are so hard hearted that it is impossible to reach them. So then what do we do?
2. We see the answer to this in our text this morning. It begins with, "Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth."
A. Let's begin with a little background on Corinth.
B. CORINTH WAS SITUATED on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow neck of land that joins central Greece to the Peloponnese, the peninsula that forms the southern part of mainland Greece.
C. It had two harbors, one on the east of the isthmus and the other on the west, and it had a three-and-one-half-mile long railroad of wooden logs over which ships were dragged from one harbor to the other. The main north-south land routes also converged here.
D. Thus, Corinth became a prosperous city, having the feel of an economic "boom town."
E. It was the center for the worship of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and had a temple with a thousand sacred prostitutes. From the fifth century B.C. on, the verb "to corinthianize" meant to be sexually immoral.
F. Paul reports that he came to Corinth "in weakness and fear, and with much trembling" (1 Cor. 2:3). This is understandable considering the pain he had endured in his last few stops.
G. Despite the divine call to Macedonia, he had been driven out of all three Macedonian cities in which he ministered.
H. From Athens he "was dismissed with polite contempt rather than being violently driven out." Paul may not have anticipated encountering much receptivity to his message in Corinth because of its prosperity and reputation for immorality.
I. But he stayed here for over a year and a half and saw the founding of "a large and gifted, if volatile, church."
J. Renowned Bible scholar F.F. Bruce writes, "It is plain from his two letters to the Corinthians that the church which he planted there caused him many a headache; it was turbulent and unruly, but it was undoubtedly alive, and remains so to this day" (Fernando, NIV Application Commentary, The – Acts, 490).
3. Ok, now that we have a little foundation on the city itself, let's see what happens to Paul there. At first it was very positive, as Luke tells us, "There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. 3 Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was. 4 Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike."